the most hurtful thing you’ve ever said to me
you didn’t even say,
you texted it to me,
after I wrote “I love you”
you said “I love you too! Good jeezuz I hope you’re awake!”
you said “You get worried when I don’t text
when I get to work.
I worry you’re still asleep
when you don’t text me.”
And this made me so sad.
First of all, let me say
that I get worried when you don’t text me
when you get to work,
because you could have crashed on the highway and died.
But you worrying that I’m still sleeping
makes sleep sound akin to having some horrible disease,
I almost wanted to reply
“No, I’m not sleeping,
I’m in the burn unit of the hospital,
because I set my face on fire.”
I know I’m being melodramatic,
I know I’m being far too sensitive,
I know, you are, (somewhat) kidding,
but, it still hurts.
I’ve had a shit relationship with sleep,
ever since I was a baby.
My mom said I was the only one out of four kids
who couldn’t sleep through the night.
When I entered the double digit years,
it got especially bad.
I had so many worries,
so many thoughts in my head,
or other nights I would just lie there like a zombie,
praying I was dead.
I would watch the clock from 8 pm
to 8 am, relieved,
I could finally leave my prison cell
of a bed.
Bored, I started to read, and write,
sometimes I could get through an entire series in one night.
Then my parents would yell at me
to turn out the light,
so once, I hid the lamp beneath my blankets,
and was so engrossed in my story
I didn’t smell the sheets burning.
After that, I got put on sleeping pills.
The first ones were so strong,
I wet the bed without even noticing.
The second ones I tried to overdose with,
and then I wasn’t allowed the pills anymore.
I was 13 years old, drifting through life,
day and night, with my eyes half open.
I felt so tired, so broken all the time,
but often the idea of using sleep
to repair my body
seemed more like agony
And so from 13 to 17 I struggled with sleep.
If I was lucky, I would doze off around 2 or 3,
and wake up at 7 the next morning.
Then every two weeks or so I would crash,
and sleep 14 hours in a row,
only to wake up the next day
feeling worse than before.
And the cycle would repeat.
But, to be honest, I kind of liked it.
I enjoyed the quiet nights.
I wrote more than I ever imagined I could write,
3 plays, 4 short stories, 152 poems.
I would talk to anyone who was online late,
listen to their own sleep deprived woes,
and I assumed this was the way my life would be
for the rest of eternity.
But then, when I turned 18
I went off to university.
I started partying, drinking, smoking weed,
and suddenly, sleep was a necessity.
But I never could sleep at the right times,
one night I was up studying for a final,
too nervous that if I went to bed,
I might not wake up in time
and sleep through the exam.
So I decided to pull an all-nighter,
and then an hour before the test,
I fell asleep with my head on my desk.
After that, I developed this new problem,
a sleep anxiety,
where I was so worried I might sleep too much,
and miss out on all the stuff
I’d stay up all night fretting,
and fall asleep just before the event.
For the entire month of January,
nobody saw me.
They began to call me a vampire
because I only came out at night.
My second year of university
things became even worse.
I worked nights as a security officer,
and smoked weed all day,
sleeping most of my expensive classes away.
And I hated, hated sleep,
and wished I could go back to my insomniac days.
I dropped out, failed out of school,
and moved back home.
And then, I met you.
And when I met you,
I was still having issues with sleep,
staying up too late,
sleeping in too long,
not sleeping at all,
but by then, it was okay,
because I had nowhere to be, nothing to do,
so I let my body work through its issues.
And you were never very understanding,
calling yourself a “reformed sleeper”
when we would do acid, you would pass out after tripping,
and I would still be awake,
watching the shadows spinning.
And I was without a job,
so I would sleep while you worked in the mornings,
and you used to say it made you sad
to come home and still see me curled up in bed.
And fast forward to today,
where I am slowly burning out,
from working two jobs the past 7 months,
when I sleep, I sleep like a baby.
And somedays I sleep too much,
but for me, there are no worries or stresses
or anything like that
I am glad,
my body is finally recovering,
I am finally feeling rested, awake, healthy.
And so on my days off, I don’t always set alarms,
I sleep in late,
and don’t usually get all my shit done for the day.
But to me, that’s okay, because it’s a day off,
and resting my body is more important
to my fractured sanity.
And so that is why it makes me so sad
that to you, my sleeping is a bad thing,
because as it is, I’m just exhausted,
and I need to spend some time
chasing my dreams.
After 21 years,
I am now, just learning,
how to sleep.